NBA Draft Preview: Lottery prospects lack strength
After reading the results of the NBA's predraft athleticism testing on nbadraft.net, I decided to try my hand at one of their tests: the bench press. I did so because I thought the numbers being produced by some of the more coveted prospects in this year's draft were astonishingly low.
The NBA testing method on the bench requires the prospect to do as many repetitions as he can with 185 lbs on the bar. (I think the NFL uses 235 lbs.). It seemed much easier than the prospects results would indicate. So I had a go next time I was at the gym. I was right. I was able to do 14 repetitions, slightly above average among this year's prospects, and I am nothing special when it comes to upper body strength let me assure you.
My personal results as a non-athlete highlight the astonishing lack of strength exhibited by some of the top prospects in this year's draft. By rights, they ought to be blowing me away. They presumably have round-the-clock access to strength coaches and the very best training equipment. Yet they obviously did not. The numbers are so bad that in some instances they raise questions about the NBA readiness of the player.
For example, LaMarcus Alridge, a center who presumably must be equipped to battle the Shaqs of the world, could only do 8 repetitions. Very weak. How will he hold his ground in the paint? Tyrus Thomas, a player who has been labeled an 'athletic freak', apparently lacks top athletic strength, as he too did only 8 repetitions. How can Thomas play power forward in the association with those sorry numbers? A couple of top guard prospects fared even worse. Brandon Roy, expected to go in the top 10, was only able to do 6 reps. Marcus Williams, a player whose stock has been hot of late, not only was decisively outjumped by Adam Morrison (huh?) in the vertical leap measurements, he could only press an embarrasing 4 reps on the bench test. Some other lowly totals: Gerry Mcnamara did a measly 2; JJ Redick did 6; Rudy Gay only got 9 (but it should be mentioned he turned in an amazing vertical leap of 40.5''. Coupled with a standing reach of 8'11 1/2 means Gay can effectively play nearly 2 1/2 feet above the rim!).
On the other end of the scale was Redick's teammate, Sheldon Williams. He did an amazing 25 repetitions. I calculated that on the "One Rep Bench Press Calculator", and it came out to a bench max of 556 pounds. Incredible. He could be the next Maurice Lucas. Could you imagine doing battle in the trenches with him?
Physical strength is a necessary attribute in modern pro basketball, especially among front line players. It seems some prospects like Williams understand that, and others just do not.